HONOLULU (KHON2) — We all make use of our island roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to their given names? 

Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiʻi and our history if you did? 

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Our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various streets across the islands so we can dig into those names, and in turn, learn something new. 

This week, we bring attention to a princess and a volcano.

In the ahupuaʻa of Keauhou, which lies in the moku of Kaʻū on the island of Hawaiʻi, stands a road that is named after the largest active volcano in the world. 

We are talking about Mauna Loa Rd.

Standing about 2.5 miles above sea level while its base is anchored about 7 miles below the ocean’s surface, Mauna Loa is considered the largest active volcano on the planet making up roughly 51% of Hawaiʻi island.

The last eruption of Mauna Loa took place in 1984, but there have been 33 recorded eruptions since 1843.

It was in 1881, however, when an eventually threatened Hilo town, only to be saved by the actions of a Hawaiian princess.

Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani was a pillar of ancient Hawaiian ways, rejecting Christianity and the Anglo-American culture.

So, when Tūtū Pele continued to inch closer to Hilo town and its residents, Princess Ruth was called upon to help.

She travelled to Hilo from Oʻahu and made her way to the foot of the lava flow which was just north of UH Hilo’s campus today.

Princess Ruth offered traditional chants and offerings to the volcano deity Pele, which included brandy and red scarves.

The princess is then reported to have camped at that location. 

By all reports, the lava flow had stopped and Hilo was spared.

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History shares that the government was preparing to bulldoze drainage and direct the lava via barriers, but fortunately, that never happened.

Did you know?  Now you do!